Virtual assistants, also known as voice assistants, are those invisible software agents that you can communicate with through handheld or desktop devices. They’ve been around for close to a decade now, but the technology still has a long way to go. Today, some of the world’s biggest technology stocks are spending fortunes trying to perfect the tech.
And with good reason. Zion Market Research expects the global market for intelligent virtual assistants to reach $19.6 billion USD by 2025. That represents an astounding CAGR of 35.4 percent starting this year.
Already there are estimated to be approximately 118 million virtual assistants in the world, and that number will increase dramatically as owning one becomes the norm.
Natural language processing is the key to a successful virtual assistant. It’s essentially what separates Rosie the robot maid in The Jetsons from HAL 9000, the murderous computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s also what separates the companies that can capture the virtual assistant market from those that won’t see good returns from their VA investments.
To find out which technology stocks you should consider investing in, look at which companies are perfecting natural language processing in their virtual assistants. By breaking down the most popular assistants on the market now—Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant—we can catch a glimpse of which tech stocks are poised for growth.
Initially released in 2011, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri was the first voice assistant that users could actually hold a conversation with. To this day, she remains the most acclaimed polyglot of the group. Siri can currently speak 21 languages, beating out Google Assistant’s 13 and Alexa’s 7. She will also soon be able to recognize multiple voices, allowing an entire family to make demands of Apple products.
Beyond being a good conversationalist, though, Siri’s actual applications are rather limited. She isn’t as capable of performing complicated tasks as some of her competitors. Also, Apple hasn’t put a ton of effort into making Siri compatible with popular, non-Apple services like Spotify.
While Apple got into the virtual assistant game early—and will pretty much always be a technology stock worth investing in—don’t expect AAPL stock to be bolstered as the VA market matures.
Alexa is the personality behind the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Echo smart speaker platform. She’s something of a jack of all trades, as Alexa can answer a wide variety of general questions, can perform most of the tasks that the other voice assistants can, and is the most compatible with third-party smart home devices.
Alexa can coordinate with up to 60,000 products, way ahead of Google Assistant, which has the next highest at 10,000. Unfortunately, though, Alexa is the virtual assistant most likely to misunderstand you out of the big three. She swings at almost every question you pitch her, and nearly a quarter of her answers are strikes.
Interestingly, in 2017, Amazon teamed up with another technology stock working to refine its virtual assistant technology, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Together, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are improving each other’s ability to respond to commands. As Alexa is reportedly improving faster than any of her competitors, Amazon stands to cement its place in the growing market.
Google Assistant (Alphabet Inc.)
Google Assistant is, hands down, the smartest of all virtual assistants. Digital marketing company Stone Temple asked all three systems a set of around 5,000 questions, and Google Assistant’s responses consistently had the highest degree of accuracy. These results were confirmed in a second study conducted by digital marketing agency 360i.
Google’s virtual assistant is also the fastest assistant, able to respond to your commands without much hesitation. On top of that, it is currently the only one that can follow two commands at once.
Most impressively, Google Assistant is the only VA that can call up a restaurant and make a reservation, or book a hotel room for you.
Which Technology Stock Will Profit from VA?
As it stands, Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), is in the best position to benefit from the increasing demand for virtual assistants. While you shouldn’t expect any of the world’s largest companies to be made or broken on this one market, GOOGL stock is likely to see a healthy bump from its happy little helper elf, Google Assistant.
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